Heavy rains washing out local crops

With five days remaining in the month, it has already become the third wettest June in Northern Indiana history registering 8.3 inches of precipitation.

While the weather may have ruined a few of your weekends, local farmers have a love-hate relationship with Mother Nature.

Fields across the area have water up to 12 inches deep in some areas, flooding out several crops like corn and soybeans. So while your day at the beach may have been ruined, your pockets could be affected soon enough.

“There’s an old saying that wet years are what really kill a farmer sometimes,” Phil Sutton, Educator for Agriculture & Natural Resources at Purdue Extension said. “It’s still too early to see what this wet is going to do. We’ve lost some corn and some beans because of wet spots but wet weather is not bad. It’s saturated soils that are bad.”

There are a few things which can be attributed to the death of these crops. Once it’s sunny, the crops can bake if they are hot and wet. Also, with the standing water, there is a lack of oxygen. But one of the main things is the loss of nitrogen in the plants.

“The microorganisms use the nitrate for oxygen and it releases nitrogen into the atmosphere,” Sutton said. “So as a fertilizer it is lost and it will affect yields because there is not enough nitrogen to carry a corn crop.”

The amount of water is noticeable during a simple drive in New Carlisle. With fields of crops to your left and right, the standing water can be seen as you approach Red Hen Turf Farms.

“The rain was pretty substantial,” Gordon Millar, President of Red Hen Turf Farms said. “When it came down we got an awful lot over the course of a week. The water cannot percolate fast enough to get away. So for plants, they need oxygen so they can come out of the soil and they’re being starved of that.”

Because of the rains, Red Hen Turf Farms have lost 200 acres of crops either from saturated soils or a complete drown out. However, optimism is high the season will turn out well.

“The weather is the weather,” Millar said. “We’ll probably install some more drainage in the areas that are super saturated but this is farming. We’ll be alright.”

While some farms are damning the rain, other areas in Michiana are praising the precipitation.

“The rain has brought most of our fruit back to schedule,” Steve Lecklider, Farm Manager at Lehman’s Orchard said. “We had a very harsh winter so we were afraid of losing a lot of fruits but now I’m seeing very decent yields in the berry crops and the tree fruits are coming along nicely.”

Thanks to the rains, Lehman’s Orchard will still hold their annual cherry picking event on the July 4th. They will supply buckets for picking, however you will need suitable containers for transporting the fruit home. More information can be found at www.lehmansorchard.com

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